Callous burglars broke into a popular children’s nursery and ransacked play rooms before making off with money.
Thieves forced entry into Dearne Valley Day Nursery in Wath by smashing a window during a nighttime raid before fleeing the scene with a cash collection.
They are also believed to have ransacked three rooms used by toddlers and parents for play sessions.
Shocked members of staff discovered the damage and theft when they went to open up as usual one morning.
One parent from Swinton, who takes his son to the centre but did not want to be named, said: “It is really saddening that there are people out there who would stoop so low as to break into a children’s facility to take money.
“It is a happy place where the kids love going and it is horrible to think it has been made into a crime scene by these criminals.
“I really hope the culprits are caught and brought to justice so they can’t strike again and to set the staff and parents’ minds at rest.”
General manager Amanda Gilbert said: “We are really disappointed that this has happened and staff have been very upset because it is a place where young people and their families have fun.”
She would not confirm what had been taken but said the centre opened as usual the following day and the incident has been reported to police.
More than 100 toddlers use the centre for play and early learning activities each week.
The break-in happened overnight between Thursday, November 6, and the early hours of Friday, November 7.
It is understood nearby Dearne Valley College has CCTV and police officers were set to review footage as part of their investigation.
A spokeswoman for South Yorkshire Police said: “Police are investigating following reports that unknown persons had broken into the property overnight.
“A number of items and a sum of money were reportedly taken during the incident.
Anyone with information is asked to call South Yorkshire Police on 101 quoting incident number 128 of 7 November 2014.”